The creative community is a very financially unstable one. Since art isn’t a commodity, most of us do not see a need to pay for it. We consume so much content over the Internet for free without realising the amount of time, effort and cost put in to create them.
We proclaim that we support the arts. We tell ourselves that we support a particular YouTuber, that we are a fan of a particular writer, that we absolutely love this podcast created by this lovely person.
But the moment they start to monetise what they are doing?
“OMG I cannot BELIEVE that you are charging for this! Is this how you treat your followers? By ripping them off?! I AM UNFOLLOWING/UNSUBSCRIBING!”
I used to be one of those people. I used to think, why should I pay to watch a video, or to read a book, when there are so many other free contents out there? It doesn’t help that being in Malaysia, our currency isn’t as strong as many other countries, which means that what costs 1 dollar to others will cost me MYR5. This means that for an average book, I have to pay about MYR40-80. Yep.
But now, with the rise of Patreon, I am made aware of how creators need fund to keep on churning out contents. It isn’t just about them earning a living; it is also about them having to cover the costs of investing in gadgets to create and platforms for us to have access to what they do.
Also, I understood from Immy Lucas (or better known as Sustainably Vegan) of Low Impact Movement (you can find her on YouTube or Instagram) that if you are not someone who encourages consumerism, it is very difficult for you to get sponsors, and the only way for you to do what you do full time is to rely on the support of your followers, and the reality is that we all need financial support. We cannot survive on “likes” and “follows”.
This moved me. It changed how I see “monetisation”. Here I am, toying around the idea of pursuing a more creative life. Thinking about whether it is feasible for me to eventually leave my full time job to do what I love. If everybody thinks like how I did, how would I ever be able to earn a living doing something that is “creative”?
We talk about supporting other creators, but are we really? I understand that not all of us can afford to pay for “art”, but the least we can do is not complain about people monetising their skills and definitely, definitely not support piracy. These kind souls are nice enough to also provide some free contents that are accessible by all. If we cannot afford to support them financially, respect them enough to support them ethically.